Frugality gets a bad rap in some circles, and in a way, such criticism can be over the top. There are people that simply think that it’s dumb to focus on saving at all, while one should simply aspire to bigger and better things with career or investments. In other words, they say make money and enjoy it while you can.
Admittedly, I do like to save money. Now, that’s no shock to those of you that visit here regularly. After all, I’ve shared a story about how I’ve picked up pennies on the ground below the window at drive-thrus, as well as a host of other tactics that can be seen as examples of extreme frugality. Saving is fun.
Plus, let’s face it - we won’t have a chance to grow net worth if we don’t save. It takes living within our means, and making sure our income exceeds our expenses, to allow this to happen of course. Then we can take that difference, invest it, and improve our situation. Bottom line is that saving money plays a big role in our financial success, and frugality can be a key part of it.
However, there really are times when we can’t be too focused on frugality. While it has its place, we can’t be myopic and lose sight of the bigger picture. Here are 6 times when we don’t need to be frugal:
When it Costs Money to Save Money
Sometimes, frugality addicts can go to great lengths to save a few dollars. Or, in some cases, pennies! I have heard people suggest things such as driving 60 minutes round trip to visit a cheaper grocery store, or driving 20 minutes round trip to go to a gas station that sells gas for 8 cents less per gallon. When you add up the cost in terms of gas, in order to drive to these places, it seems ludicrous to make those attempts to save. Particularly for using gas to save money on gas!
When it Takes Time to Save Money
Clipping coupons can be a nice way to save money. However, if we spend 30 minutes clipping coupons in order to save $4 at the grocery store, is it worth it? Would you want to spend your free time working at an $8 hourly rate? If so, maybe it would be worth it. But these are the types of calculations that make sense for us to make, determining the ROI on coupons, in order to see if we are truly spending our time wisely.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of this one. Did you see above, where I talked about plucking coins off the ground at the drive thru window, where people dropped them? The drive thru isn’t exactly indicative of optimal nutrition :) However, I’ve gotten much better with choices, and realize that it doesn’t help to buy cheap food just to save money. Food that is healthy and cheap is a great choice, but unhealthy and cheap isn’t. What we save up front we might pay back and then some in health care costs and lower quality of life later.
Necessary Health Care
Have you heard of people who avoid getting healthcare on purpose? By this, I mean people making a decent salary with decent benefits, but choosing not spend on insurance because they “never get sick”. I have. Plus, there are people who don’t want to make doctor visits due to copay costs and medical costs, despite the necessity of such things. I get that some things aren’t truly necessary to do, but others actually are. Don’t shortchange your quality of life to save a few dollars.
Maintenance and Repairs
This can take many forms, but the ones that jump out at me are home and car maintenance. Like anything else, if we do the little things along the way, the long-term results will likely be better. Delay the important expenses, or try to cut corners where we shouldn’t, and we could ulimately lose more money later.
I know that many will disagree, but I think it’s rewarding to be generous in spirit and action where feasible. Now, obviously we can’t do this at all times and for everyone. But being willing to shell out a few dollars here and there to be a good sport or truly help someone in need are both nice qualities and can be rewarding. For example, if someone you know asks if you can buy girl scout cookies, how could it really hurt to buy one box? Again, can’t do it for everyone, but sometimes we can.
More importantly, there are people in need. Not all needy people are lazy bums or moochers, some folks have truly experienced misfortune. A few dollars to help on occasion won’t break the bank. To each their own though, of course.
My Questions For You:
Which of these 6 instances of when not to be frugal resonates most with you? How have you applied it in your life?
Are there any you disagree with?
Do you have any more to add?